Familiarity won’t be an issue in tonight’s must-win B&I Cup clash for Munster A at Nottingham’s Ladybay (7.45pm).
Apart from Nottingham head coach Ian Costello, who was an integral part of the Munster back-room team for several years, there are no less than five former Munster players in the home colours: Jordan Coghlan, Shane Buckley, Rory Burke, Gearóid Lyons, and Sean Scanlon.
Nottingham still have an oustide hope of qualification, while Munster are desperately seeking a win — a bonus point one at that — in their attempt to reel in leaders Bedford Blues, who head Pool 1 (13 points to Munster’s 11) and who play away to Ospreys tonight.
Munster could afford to lose on condition they win their final home fixture to the Welsh outfit next week, but they would then face an away quarter-final.
Effectively, they must win both of their remaining games and hope Bedford drop points somewhere to claim top spot.
Head coach Peter Malone will be confident enough in his own charges having overseen a good away win to Bedford last time out in the second back-to-back fixture, and in the knowledge his outfit recorded a 38-7 win over Costello’s club in round one.
Dave Johnston skippers a Munster side that also includes his brother Bill and the team is a blend of youth and experience, with Mike Sherry, Gerbrandt Grobler, and Conor Oliver providing plenty of attributes to worry Nottingham.
South African Grobler finally makes his return from an injury sustained in a pre- season friendly against Worcester Warriers. He will partner Fineen Wyhcherly in the second row.
There is a new, but exciting looking, centre partnership featuring Dave McCarthy and Ireland Sevens international Shane Daly.
Jeremy Loughman, on a short-term contract from Leinster, continues to get game time and plays in the front row alongside Sherry and the increasingly impressive Brian Scott.
Elsewhere today, Ulster are home to Cornish Pirates (Shaws Bridge, 5pm), while tomorrow, Leinster travel to meet Cardiff Blues and Connacht are on the road against English Championship side Ealing Trailfinders.
S Scanlon; B Robinson, W Millett, G Lyons, J Cobden; T Eden, M McConnell; A Sio, J Stevens, R Burke; T Cardall, B Morris (captain); S Buckley, J Coughlan, J Poullet.
B Brownlie, J Jack, B Hooper, S Cecil, M Everard, D Veenendaal, V Hakalo.
D Johnston (C); C Nash, S Daly, D McCarthy, S Fitzgerald; B Johnston, J Hart; J Loughman, M Sherry, B Scott; F Wycherley, G Grobler; S O’Connor, C Oliver, G Coombes.
D Casey, C Parker, S McCarthy, J Foley, J Poland, C Fitzgerald, R O’Mahony.
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